Dr. J. Patrick Johnston and wife

In Response to Jay Rogers' article,
"Justifiable Homicide - A Covenantal View of Justice"
found at

Dear Brother Rogers,

I would like to respond to your article entitled "Justifiable Homicide - A Covenantal View of Justice".  First, let
me briefly introduce myself.  I am a Christian family practicioner in central Ohio who believes that preborn
humans have the same right to life as those outside the womb.  This is the basis of my refusal to condemn those
who employ defensive force to protect someone being assaulted or about to be assaulted.

I think you argue against a straw man in your article.  I see it at the very beginning: in your title: "...A Covenantal
View of Justice" and in your fourth paragraph: "From the outset, we should maintain that it is not within the
jurisdiction of the Church to execute this type of justice even against violent offenders who violate the laws of
God. Pro-life groups should never advocate this type of violence as Church-related organizations."

That you call defensive force an act of "justice" shows that you don't understand the arguments presented, or
else you have been learning of the idea from those who don't articulate it well.  There is a sound, legal argument
for the justification of force to protect innocent preborn humans from being killed, and the basis for that
argument is that humans in the womb are recipients of the God-given right to life and liberty just like people
outside the womb.  Defensive force to protect a one-day-old baby from an assailant is justified in God's law,
and so may be defensive force to protect the same baby a couple of days earlier - same baby, different place,
different stage of development, but same baby.  Defensive force is not an act of "justice" if by justice you mean
"retributive justice."  Retributive justice, for instance, would apprehend, try, and execute a retired abortionist.
Defensive force, on the other hand, is not employed to punish one for past crimes but to protect an innocent
person or persons from a crime being committed or about to be committed.  If someone is about to kill you with
a gun, and I shoot him first to save your life, I have not committed "murder" or an act of "justice", but rather,
justifiable homicide.  My motive was not malicious, but compassionate.  The fetus, though smaller and weaker,
is just as worthy of the right to life as you and therefore, with the same defensive motive and without blame in the
sight of God, the same force may be used against his/her assailant in order to defend them.

Our society already respects defensive force and justifiable violence on behalf of born-humans, and its
discrimination against the preborn is illegitimate and unjustified.  If "justifiable homicide" is a legitimate defense
for lethal force employed to save your life from an assailant, it is also a legitimate defense for lethal force
employed to save a preborn baby's life from an assailant, the child's size, stage of development, and
unwantedness notwithstanding.

Secondly, in the fourth paragraph you make a claim that you have not proven.  You state it as fact as if it is a
self-evident premise, but it is not.

The straw man also comes out in this paragraph: "There is a fundamental difference between the case of
defending life within the household and an individual taking it upon himself to become jury, judge and executor in
the case of a murder that is about to be committed or one that has already been committed through abortion.
Under the New Covenant this authority belongs to the civil sphere of government only."

You confuse defensive force with retributive justice again.  The fellow who pulls the trigger with his scope in the
crosshairs of the masked murder who has a 44 magnum to your temple doesn't play "judge, jury, and
executioner."  He's not punishing him for past wrongs - he might not even know of any past wrongs - but rather,
he's trying to prevent a wrong.  He's trying to defend you from your assailant.  It's justifiable homicide, not playing
"judge, jury, and executioner" or being "the avenger of blood".

You make much ado about the role of the church and the covenantal shift from the Old to the New Covenant,
but this false premise is infiltrated throughout your argument.  You would have no scruples against an
unrelated professing Christian who used force to save your life from a masked murderer, so why do you refer to
covenantal shifts in the role of God's people to condemn those who would use force to save preborn lives from
masked murderers?

You make the statement that the church's "main tactic is to use the weapons of spiritual warfare, such as prayer
and preaching, to change the hearts and minds of those practicing child
murder. The taking of a life is never a legitimate tactic. Subduing the murderer non-violently (is the aim)..."
You make these comments to condemn the one who would use defensive force to save a preborn baby from
his/her assailant, but you would never make these comments to discourage a brother from using lethal force to
stop a terrorist from blowing up a jet or to stop a masked murder from shooting up shoppers in the mall.  Why
this discrimination against the preborn?

Also, in the distinction you make between our obligation to defend family versus our obligation to defend
strangers, would you justify the defender's use of lethal force if his grandchild had an appointment to get aborted
that day?  In the distinction you make between whether the crime is in the home or whether the crime is taking
place in another place, would you justify Michael Griffin if he were to kill the abortionist as the abortionist was
trying to abort his grandchild in his home?  Think about it.  I hope you realize that these qualifications are
arbitrary when it comes to defensive force.  Though the scenario for defending one's family from an invader in
your home is the example of Scripture, the same principle applies in public.  No where is defensive force
condemned in the Bible, and even in your conscience, defensive force is not blameworthy.  Someone who
shoots a masked murder who's about to kill a dozen innocent people hasn't committed murder, but justifiable,
defensive force, consistent with the love of God.  The question is, why this discrimination against the preborn?
Even you don't have a problem with defensive force to stop an abortionist from killing people, as long as it's
born people.  If an abortionist went into a mall and started shooting people, you would have no problem with a
brother who pulled out his concealed weapon and shot the assailant.  So why the discrimination against the

Please give this some thought.  In conclusion, let me say that the primary means I employ to stop abortion is the
spiritual means you describe: preaching, praying, sharing with others, helping women in crisis
pregnancies, teaching my patients and other physicians what science and Scripture have to say about the
topic.  But one of the things science and Scripture say about this topic is that the fetus is just as human and just
as alive as extra-uterine people.  There is no justification for our society's or the contemporary church's
discrimination against the preborn, in denying them the same right to life and defense that we'd grant to them if
they were already born.

Dr. Patrick Johnston

What the Bible Says Should Be Done to Abortionists

How America Pollutes God
By Patrick Johnston, D.O.

"Will ye pollute Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save souls alive that should not live...?" Ezekiel 13:19

How is God polluted according this this passage?  By slaying the innocent and letting capital criminals live.  God declares the slaying of innocent human beings to be absolutely wrong, and He insists that murderers be executed.  He takes it as a personal affront when people allow the innocent to be killed and allow the killers of the innocent to live.  Rejecting God's ways is not without sanction.  The Bible says that the shedding of innocent blood brings a curse upon the land and its people.  It also says that the curse can only be lifted by executing the shedder of innocent blood.

Hear the Word of God on this matter:

Numbers 35
30 Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.
31 Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.
32 And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest.
33 So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.
34 Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.

Deuteronomy 19
11 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities:
12 Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.
13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee...
20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.
21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Let me summarize these two passages.  No less than two witnesses were required to put a murderer to death.  God gave the nation a certain number of "cities of refuge" where one who killed another could flee to be safe from the "avenger of blood".  It was, after all, legal for a citizen to slay a murderer outside of a "city of refuge".  For one accused of murder to be brought out of a city of refuge, a judge was to be consulted for a trial, and if the accused was found guilty he was to be put to death by "the avenger of blood".  "Pity" was outlawed.  Letting murderers live served to "pollute" and "defile" the land, and "the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it."  Executing murderers was the only way to "put away the guilt of innocent blood."

Exodus 21 (with my commentary interspersed)
12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death..
22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her (premature labor), and yet no mischief follow (the baby and mother are healthy): he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23 And if any mischief follow (baby or mother are injured or killed), then thou shalt give life for life,
24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

According to God's law, the babies were recipients of the right to life just like born people.  One of the evidences for that is that killing a preborn child was a capital crime!  Time hasn’t rendered this statute obsolete any more than it has nullified the sixth commandment: "Thou shalt not murder."  It is hypocritical and inconsistent to appeal to the sixth commandment to condemn the killing of innocent preborn children, and then reject what the next chapter says should be done to those who break that commandment!  There is no ambiguity according to the passages cited above.  Killing innocent human beings is a capital crime.  If murderers aren't executed, then the curse of innocent blood rests upon us.

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